12-18-12 A Pre End of the World Supper

Okay, I’m back. I think. It has been a while. And this supper gets the credit. So easy too.IMG_1708 This is rice, not just any rice. This is Italian red rice, grown in northern Italy. I cooked it the exact same way as I do for brown rice. That is, a ratio of 1:2. On this evening, I cooked a half cup of rice in one cup of water with barely a quarter teaspoon of salt, covered, on a low flame for forty-five minutes. Wash the rice and put in a small pot with the salt. Add the water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat way down and leave it alone for forty-five minutes. There are, perhaps, only two times that you will remove the lid. The first is to make sure the water has boiled so you can turn down the flame. The second time is mid-way through cooking. Lift the lid to see that it is still simmering, bubbling gently and that the water has not all cooked off. By the end of cooking, all of the water will have been absorbed, the rice will almost be steaming itself and it should not be burnt at the bottom. If the rice  is still a little wet, continue to cook with the lid off for a few more minutes. At this point, if you have not managed to fluff up everything, proceed to fluff the rice. The grains ought not be raw, nor should they be mush. But the grains ought to be still intact and distinct. I used this rice in soup.

IMG_1710             There is nothing like a good bowl of hot, steaming soup on a cold Winters night.

This peasant style soup has onions, garlic, carrots, celery, kohl rabe and parsnip as a vegetable base. All of this was sauteed in olive oil with a little bit of left-over Speck. Speck is otherwise known as Smoked Prosciutto. It is used throughout northern Italy, but especially in the mountainous regions like the Alps. I used a little salt so as to draw off the water content of the vegetables and thus concentrate their sweetness.

I used water for my soup and added green split peas. I flavored it with it bay leaves and sage from my garden. I added parsley to brighten it up and a little bit of black pepper. Put all that together with the cooked red rice and a glass of white wine from northern Italy.

IMG_1711               And this is salt. And now a digression…….from the latin word for salt or “sale”. Salt is used to cure all of the various Salumni or cured meats, including Salami………which you then go on to buy from me at the Salumeria or the place where you buy this stuff or the grocery.

“Grosso” simply means that the salt is chunky or coarse. I use it in boiling pasta, grains, potatoes, etc. I put it on certain breads or crackers that make. And I also use it table-side in a salt-mill.

At its simplest, “Alimentare” can be interpreted as meaning foodstuffs normally found in a grocer. After all of this information, you can see why I am worth my weight in gold. That would help out my salary.

There is no hard and fast recipe for a soup of this nature. There are lots of different combinations and permutations. Cooking time from start to finish will vary too. This will depend on how much you are making, knife skills, what ingredients you are using and to some extent, your kitchen equipment

I used two onions, lots of garlic, two carrots, three stalks of celery, a kohl rabe and a parsnip. I roasted all these in a broad pan with the ham. I do this because this base or “mirepoix” in French or “Soffritto” in the Italian kitchen, will simply cook faster for me by evaporating their collective moisture content. I do not want to steam them in a pot. Later, after about twenty minutes or half an hour, after the “Soffritto” has cooked down it is transferred to the pot. I also like to cut the vegetables smaller than my smallest finger-nail. They cook faster this way. I added half of a cup of green split peas and about a quart of water to cover. Split peas cook fast. Bring the soup to a boil and let it simmer for about 20 or 30 minutes or until the split peas are cooked. The split peas should retain there form and not be mushy. The soup will be nice and thick anyways with being mushy at all. You want to be able to identify all the little components. Make enough for two nights, you’ll be glad that you did.


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